The National Aerospace Laboratories, Bangalore, a unit under Council for Scientific and Industrial Research is planning to build technology for a 50-70 seater ‘regional’ aircraft within the country to suit India specific needs.
The latest aviation technology will be used or developed to build an aircraft which would be very light, fuel efficient and be able to land and take off from the typical Indian airfields which have very short or semi prepared runways and minimally equipped airfields. Heavier aircrafts which take larger loads require both sophisticated airfields longer runways and guzzle more fuel.
Director NAL AR Upadhya talking to Hindustan Times from Bangalore said that a Rs 1200 crore preliminary proposal for building these aircrafts has been prepared.
"NAL is currently carrying out a technology gap analysis, defining the strategies to fill the gap and identify organisations which can participate."
A national effort involving many other aerospace organisations would be undertaken in a public-private partnership mode with major industry sharing the cost and risk during its development, production and marketing.
"We have already set the model for public-private partnership with a collaboration agreement with Mahindra Plexion Technologies for a 4-5 seater multi role aircraft for executive transport and other roles."
With Indian civil aviation market growing at a phenomenal rate of about 25 per cent annually over the last three four years and projected to continue in the same fashion, NAL wants to fulfill the growing demand of smaller towns to get onto the national aviation map, Mr Upadhya said.
The market for 50-70 seater turbo prop aircraft according to Upadhya will increase over the next two and a half decade with India requiring nearly 200 aircrafts of various sizes in the next five years.
The aircraft having a nominal seating capacity will have the possibility of downsizing to 50 seats and stretching to 90 seats with appropriate changes to the fuselage length.
Behind NAL’s confidence for going in for a 70 seater aircraft is the success it has achieved in coming out with indigenous technology for two seater trainer air craft "Hansa" presently being used by a dozen flying clubs in the country and SARAS, the multi role light transport aircraft which has completed 100 flight test sorties and its second prototype is expected to take to the skies during the third week of March 2007.